Holy jumping mother o'God in a side-car with chocolate jimmies and a lobster bib! THIS GAME ROCKS!
Hey there! I've decided I'm going to review the Sam & Max games. I'll go in chronological order, starting with this masterpiece and then on to Season 1 & 2. I would review each episode in individual reviews, but I don't want to clutter up MobyGames. Anyways, before we get started, a little history. Back in the late 1980s, artist Steve Purcell wrote a series of underground comics called "Sam & Max: Freelance Police." While the comic had a cult following (Including Chie, my girlfriend at the time- now my wife) it didn't really go as far as it should have. Purcell was hired by the LucasArts corporation, and for the company newsletter he would draw new Sam & Max strips usually parodying LucasArts products. The guys at the office loved them, and prepped Sam & Max for their very own game.
That year, the titanic monster known as " Doom
" came out, got me addicted, and held my brain hostage. I began writing game & movie reviews for my high school newspaper thing, and that year I got my very first request. Chie wanted me to review this game. The review was delayed because I had to get my brain back from Doom, but once I had my brain back and lodged safely in the moist confines of my skull, I sat down and booted up this little masterpiece.
What makes Sam & Max so great is one simple thing: The humour. While it is yet another top notch adventure game from LucasArts, there are some more apparent flaws once you strip away the laughs which I will cover below. Yet Sam & Max is easily the funniest of LucasArt's adventure games, and considering they did the hilarious Monkey Island games
and other very funny games like Day of the Tentacle
, that's saying ALOT. The humour in Sam & Max is hard to describe, but lets just say that if Salvador Dahli was a comedian, Sam & Max would be his brainchild. Calling Sam & Max surreal just isn't doing it justice.
The graphics, while sadly heavily pixelated, are great. Purcell's rather distinct art style is brought to life and the animation is great as well. The game also has some very vibrant colours which please the eyes, especially when replaying the game in the modern era where the only colour necessary in video games is red for blood and gray for everything else. It's also funny to see Max wander around the sets and interact with some of their unique props.
The game sounds great too, from an excellent Jazzy soundtrack, to the superb voice acting which only enhances the funny. Back in 1993, I'd say that Sam & Max was worth buying a CD drive just so you could have those voices. The voices really do make the game funnier, with pitch perfect voices for everyone, especially Sam & Max. They sound just how you would expect them to. There are various good sound effects too, often very cartoony and sometimes just as random as some of the games jokes.
The game has a very simple, user friendly interface and improves upon the classic interface from previous LucasArts games which was a little more cluttered and complex. By having only a few icons and symbols representing each function when you mouse over something usable really helps. The game also does away with red herrings, meaning every item that you stash in your handy box o' stuff will have a purpose at some point or another and there are rarely any dead end stops. Pixel hunting is also not found here, with every object that you might need clear as day and every object you need to use even clearer.
The puzzles are surprisingly difficult, and while many are good and require logic, others aren't so good; something I will cover below. I like the difficulty, but Sam & Max does push it a little, and I will cover that below as well.
The game has a great and relatively lengthy campaign and gives you plenty of bizarre locales to explore and equally bizarre people and creatures to meet. My favourite location is The Mystery Spot, a place where the laws of physics are pummeled to death as horrifically as possible. I also love one of the characters in the Mystery Spot, a gay hippie mole creature that uses a psychic mood ring to find people or things. His part is small, but I thought he was awesome.
The game has great replay value, not just to chuckle at the jokes again, but also to find new dialogue trees and jokes you would've normally missed on your first playthrough.
Although there are several good puzzles and there's no question as to the fact that they will boggle your mind, sometimes the puzzles are a little too mind boggling and insane. I know that it ties into the humor, and I definitely found these funny in the end, but the frustration in learning these solutions is ridiculous since they often throw out all logic; something necessary in these games. Would you know without a hint that you are supposed to attach a severed hand holding a fish shaped fridge magnet to a broken golf ball retriever with a convenience store drink cup on the end into the worlds largest ball of twine? No? Didn't think so.
There are also a couple mini-games which are more tedious than they are fun (Although I did like the battleship variant), and the convenience store locations are somewhat copy-pasted and the jokes wear thin, making it an annoyance to have to repeatedly go to them. The highway surfing minigame is also annoying because it will not let you leave until you reach a certain goal, and sometimes a bug will cause it to be impossible to leave and you will have to reboot the game to go back to the locales you need to go to to complete the game.
Speaking of bugs, this game has a surprisingly large amount compared to other LucasArts adventures, and many of them can be game breaking. They can usually be fixed by restarting the game, but they still might happen which is a real pain.
The Bottom Line
Sam & Max Hit the Road is undoubtedly the funniest game I have ever played. It still makes me laugh my butt off, and like I said in my Full Throttle review, these adventure games are like your favourite movie. They may not be immediately replayable, but you'll want to pop it in from time to time and enjoy it all over again. If you like adventure games and if you need a good cure for your depression, Sam & Max hit the Road will do just that.